Members of the public can weigh in on proposed improvements to a stretch of S. George Mason Drive that’s being studied.
The road renovation project from Arlington Blvd to the Fairfax County border is part of the South George Mason Drive Multimodal Transportation Study, which aims to “identify improvements” along this “key corridor,” according to the project’s website.
Residents can provide online feedback on proposed design concepts through Sunday, Aug. 7.
The stretch of the roadway being studied is divided into three segments:
- between Arlington Blvd and Columbia Pike
- between Columbia Pike and S. Four Mile Run Drive
- between S. Four Mile Run Drive and the Fairfax County border
Earlier this month, the county’s Dept. of Environmental Services released its preliminary designs for the three road segments. The first option for all three segments would separate cyclists and cars into different lanes on both sides of the road, and widen the sidewalks and the vegetation buffers on both sides to six feet, according to the concept plans.
However, this design would increase the number of lanes pedestrians have to cross, as well as remove sections of on-street parking and require additional right-of-way behind the curb. Buses would also have to enter the bike lane to pick up passengers, instead of pulling up to the curb, according to an online community meeting.
The second option for the segment from Arlington Boulevard to Columbia Pike would widen the west side sidewalk to a 12-foot, multi-use trail and the east sidewalk to six feet. It would also narrow the driving lanes while keeping the parking lane on the east side. The new multi-use trail would connect several county parks, such as Alcova Heights Park and trails like the Arlington Boulevard Trail.
However, this design would remove parking on the west side and require signal phasing changes to reduce conflict with people on the multi-use trail.
The second design option for the segment from Columbia Pike to S. Four Mile Run Drive would be largely similar except it would keep the two parking lanes on both sides of the road.
The second design plan for the third road segment would narrow all the driving lanes between S. Four Mile Run and the Fairfax County border to 11 feet and the central median to 14 feet, but it would widen the vegetation buffers on both sides and the sidewalk on the west side to a 12-foot, multi-use trail.
However, this plan may result in tree removal due to narrowing the central median, as well as the removal of some parking spots at intersections and driveways. The county would need to consider more design details, such as how the new road would interact with the driveways of houses along the road segment.
The corridor study is set to conclude between October and November this year. The county then plans to apply for grant funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.
Photos via Google Maps
Arlington County will be studying a two-mile stretch of S. George Mason Drive, from Route 50 to the border with Fairfax County, to identify potential transportation improvements.
The study is happening now because the road is a solid candidate for grants that have applications due in the winter. But before they can apply, county staff need to examine current conditions and hear from locals about their biggest safety concerns, according to Leah Gerber, an county transportation planner.
She said one reason staff are optimistic about grant funding is because the upgrades would benefit residents of census tracts with high concentrations of ethnic minorities, or “equity emphasis areas,” according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
Over the next two months, staff will analyze data such as transit ridership and traffic counts and develop concept plans for three segments of the road:
- North Segment — Arlington Blvd to Columbia Pike
- Middle Segment — Columbia Pike to S. Four Mile Run Drive
- South Segment — S. Four Mile Run Drive to county line
Staff will also develop 15% designs for the Columbia Pike-county line segment.
“The southern portion we feel will really be eligible for grant funding,” said Valerie Mosley, the bureau chief of Transportation Planning and Capital Project Management for Arlingtons Department of Environmental Services.
The study is slated for commission and County Board review this fall, in time for applications to go out this winter.
“We’re working on a fairly truncated timetable for this study and we wanted to start by asking about your experience,” public engagement coordinator Nate Graham said during a community kick-off meeting last week. “That feedback from the community will help us, along with data analysis, plan a study and identify solutions that can resolve those issues.”
A survey, open through Sunday, May 1, asks respondents how safe they feel walking, scooting, driving and biking the road. People can signal their preferred upgrades from options such as protected bike lanes, sheltered bus stops, bus-only lanes and widened sidewalks. Using an interactive map, respondents can pinpoint specific locations they say need attention.
What staff members know so far is that some residents have long requested safer pedestrian crossings through improvements such as flashing beacons. One oft-cited intersection is with 6th Street S., near the National Foreign Affairs Training Center, where shrubbery and trees make it hard to see oncoming cars.
Some cyclists, meanwhile, have pointed out inconsistent bike infrastructure, with lanes that start and stop at random. Other residents say more parking enforcement is needed between Columbia Pike and S. Four Mile Run Drive, where large commercial trucks park despite being too wide for the parking spaces available.
(Updated at 1:25 p.m.) A pedestrian was struck and seriously injured by a driver who then fled the scene last night.
The crash happened near the intersection of S. George Mason Drive and Four Mile Run Drive, just before 8:30 p.m. The road was closed while police investigated.
The W&OD Trail crosses just north of the busy intersection, next to a service road that’s also labeled as S. Four Mile Run Drive.
“At 8:25 p.m. on November 29, police were dispatched to a crash with injuries involving a pedestrian at S. Four Mile Run Dr. and S. George Mason Drive,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Upon arrival, officers located the pedestrian, an adult male, in the roadway. He was transported to an area hospital and remains hospitalized in critical condition.”
“During the preliminary investigation, officers did not locate any witnesses to the crash and there is no description of the striking vehicle,” Savage continued. “The circumstances of the crash remain under investigation. Anyone with information that may assist with the investigation is asked to contact ACPD’s Tip Line at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).”
At 8:25 p.m., police were dispatched to a crash with injuries involving a pedestrian. The pedestrian was transported to an area hospital with critical injuries. The driver of the striking vehicle did not remain on scene. Expect continued police presence in the area. https://t.co/yaPNMtVHV9
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) November 30, 2021
Photo via Google Maps
An Arlington man has been sentenced to decades in prison for killing a man in the Douglas Park neighborhood three years ago.
Michael Nash, 29, is set to spend nearly 35 years behind bars. Five years and one month of the 40 years sentence was suspended. Nash will have five years of supervised probation.
Earlier this summer, Nash pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for killing Arlington resident Patricio Salazar, who had tried to intervene when he found Nash sexually and physically assaulting his then-girlfriend. Other charges, including forcible sodomy and robbery, were dropped as part of the agreement.
“It was the most accurate charge for the most serious conduct, and it had the support of the other victims,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti said.
At a 2019 hearing, Nash’s then-girlfriend told a judge that they argued loudly enough for police to come, but were allowed to leave together after separate interviews, the Washington Post reported. They continued walking and ended up on near Doctor’s Run Park.
That’s when Nash “pushed her to the ground and began beating her, stripping her of her clothing and touching her sexually,” the Post reports.
Salazar tried to stop him, but Nash beat him and knocked him unconscious, police said at the time. Salazar was transported to George Washington University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Nash fled the scene and robbed a woman of her cell phone, police previously said. Officers and a police helicopter eventually apprehended Nash near the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive.
Salazar’s sister Loty launched a GoFundMe fundraiser to honor her brother’s life and raise money for three organizations that support victims of sexual assault in the U.S. and Bolivia. It brought in more than $30,000. Bradley Flood, a witness, also raised money for the family.
His sister remembered Salazar as “one of the most kindhearted and genuine people I have ever met.”
“And, as he showed by his final act of great courage, he was a man of integrity and character, who believed in doing the right thing no matter what the cost,” she wrote.
Flood wrote that it chills him to think what would have happened if Salazar had not intervened.
“He is a Good Samaritan if there ever was one,” he said.
The man who suffered potentially life-threatening injuries in a bicycle crash in Yorktown last month says he is making a full recovery.
“I can’t believe I was almost killed in the bicycle accident,” said Joseph Schanuel. “I have nobody to blame but myself — nobody caused my bike to fall.”
Schanuel, 25, was riding his bike — which he modified to be powered by a two-stroke gas engine — along N. George Mason Drive on the afternoon of July 28 when suddenly it fell apart.
“The front wheel came off after my carbon fork [a part that attaches the front wheel to the frame] broke in half due to overuse and local bumpy terrain,” he said. “My skull dropped into the pavement, face-planted at 20 mph.”
The crash happened around 1 p.m. on the 2700 block of N. George Mason Drive, just south of Yorktown Blvd, and the detached wheel could be seen next to the bike. According to a Nextdoor post, a woman walking her dog called the paramedics.
“I was on a work call when my wife, who was walking our dog, screamed for me to come outside,” a man said on Nextdoor. “She was already on with 9-11. I saw you lying in the road and ran into the middle of the road to stop traffic. Within minutes, the paramedics were there. We were worried sick about you and are so glad to hear you are ok and on the mend.”
Another poster said she drove by the scene before the road had been blocked off. She saw Schanuel surrounded by Arlington County Fire Department personnel.
“I was horrified to see you lying unmoving on the street,” she said. “I was very shaken and am so relieved to hear that you survived!! I wish you well in your recovery!”
Schanuel was rushed to Virginia Hospital Center, which was only five minutes away. According to his Instagram, he was discharged Aug. 13, a Friday.
“I owe my thanks to the 911 caller at the… scene of the accident and to the [Emergency Medical Services], also [Emergency Room] physicians and facial neurologist trauma doctors at VHC, which was only five minutes away,” he said. “Thank you for providing me rapid transport — I am alive because of your heroism.”
Schanuel was wearing a helmet at the time and said it might have saved his life. Still, the force of hitting his face on the pavement knocked him unconscious “for at least five hours,” according to his account of the crash on Nextdoor. Firefighters had to use water to wash Schanuel’s blood from the pavement.
His fall resulted in shattered facial bones and traumatic injury to Schanuel’s brain. He says he suffered a concussion so bad that he could have had permanent cognitive impairment, as well as deficits in balance, agility and the ability to sense his body’s movements. But he’s happy to be alive.
“I’m lucky I can still bathe and swallow and lift objects and walk in a straight line without any mobility assistance,” he said.
(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) A bicyclist has suffered potentially life-threatening injuries after a crash 2-3 blocks from Yorktown High School.
The crash happened around 1 p.m. on the 2700 block of N. George Mason Drive, just south of Yorktown Blvd. Initial reports suggest the front wheel of the bike somehow came off and the cyclist flipped over the handlebars, suffering a possible head injury.
The detached wheel could be seen next to the bike, which appeared to have a motor that powered it. A pool of blood was nearby, in the middle of the bike lane.
The cyclist was rushed to a local trauma center for treatment. So far there are no reports of any vehicles being involved in the crash.
“ACFD arrived on the scene of a single-bicycle crash in the 2700 block of N. George Mason Drive,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage said. “The bicyclist was transported to an area hospital in critical condition. Police were dispatched to the area and remain on scene investigating the crash.”
Drivers should expect the northbound lanes of N. George Mason Drive to remain closed while police document the scene and investigate the crash.
The county plans to resurface a stretch of Wilson Blvd in Bluemont to improve the driving, cycling and walking experience.
The project is part of Arlington County’s annual effort to resurface about 100 lane miles of roadway annually, prioritizing those in the most need of upgrades and those adjacent to development or other capital projects.
County staff propose reducing — in most places — the number of vehicle travel lanes along Wilson Blvd from four to two between N. Frederick Street and N. George Mason Drive. During a meeting last night (Monday), they said the reduction will accommodate new turn lanes and buffered and standard bike lanes, and prevent merging conflicts where Wilson Blvd transitions from two lanes to one in each direction west of N. Frederick Street.
Transportation Engineer Dan Nabors said the changes will “improve pedestrian crossings, provide separation between people who are driving, walking and biking, reduce and control vehicle speeds, improve sightlines, and make the street easier to understand for all users.”
Currently, east of N. Frederick Street — near the Safeway — Wilson Blvd has two vehicle travel lanes in each direction, curbside transit stops and shared-lane bicycle markings, also known as “sharrows.” The posted speed limit is 30 mph and most people go 33.8 mph, said fellow transportation engineer Cathie Seebauer.
This spring, road users suggested changes to this segment of Wilson Blvd, which staff said they incorporated into the concept plan shared last night. Community members asked for a continuation of existing bike lanes, a safer Bluemont Trail crossing at the intersection with N. George Mason Drive, and changes to the part of Wilson Blvd where it narrows from two lanes to one west of N. Frederick Street, Seebauer said.
From N. Frederick Street to N. Emerson Street, staff propose eliminating the transition from one to two lanes and adding buffered bike lanes that will be shared with enhanced bus stop markings.
“The road does meet national volume thresholds for a reconfiguration from four lanes to two,” Seebauer said. East of N. Edison Street, however, she said that “two eastbound travel lanes would need to be retained to maintain safety and operations.”
From N. Edison Street to N. George Mason Drive, cyclists will have a 6-foot standard bike lane with green paint to warn drivers and cyclists of major conflict points. A two-stage bike box will guide those turning to go north on N. George Mason Drive and help those continuing east on Wilson Blvd to merge with through vehicular traffic when the bike lane disappears.
Wilson Blvd going west will have only one through-lane to make room for dedicated right and left-turn lanes.
An online comment tool will be open until Tuesday, July 7. The resurfacing work will be done this summer and fall.
Photos (1-4) via Google Maps
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is looking to rename the post office on N. George Mason Drive after Jesus Collazos, a beloved postal worker who died of the coronavirus.
Collazos left the poor neighborhood of his childhood, Barrio Obrero in Colombia, for the U.S. in the 1980s. He settled in Arlington with his wife, where he delivered mail for 25 years and they raised a family, the Washington Post reported last year. He was known for responding to letters to Santa Claus and for his friendly presence.
Collazos retired in 2019, and in 2020, was diagnosed with lymphoma. Before treatment could begin, he died of COVID-19 at 67.
“The Congressman found the story of Mr. Collazos’ career and tragic death during the pandemic extremely compelling, and given his service as a mail carrier it made natural sense to try to rename a postal facility in his honor,” said Aaron Fritschner, the communications director for Beyer’s office.
The post office at 2200 N. George Mason Drive serves the 22207 zip code. Beyer’s office is currently seeking local input, including discussions with Arlington County and nearby civic groups, Fritschner said. So far, the local feedback has been “very positive.”
Yorktown Civic Association President and County Board candidate Mike Cantwell said his community’s support for renaming the post office on Nextdoor was “overwhelming.”
“I personally didn’t know him and I just wanted to say after reading all those comments, I fully support renaming the post office for him,” Cantwell said. “It’s amazing to see one person so beloved by the community.”
On Nextdoor, residents remember Collazos for the way he went the extra mile to help elderly residents and always knew someone who could help with a home improvement project. They also were overwhelmingly supportive of the renaming.
“Jesus Collazos was a neighbor,” said one resident of the Leeway Overlee neighborhood. “We called him the ‘Mayor of 24th Street.’ Sorely missed and it would be such a great tribute to his contributions to our community to name a post office in honor of him.”
A Tara-Leeway Heights resident recalled how Collazos helped her mother later in life. He came up to the door, knocked and opened it, announcing himself and putting the mail on the TV stand.
“My mom thought so highly of him,” she said. “He just did stuff like that. He was a person who really ‘saw’ those around him.”
Another poster from Tara-Leeway Heights said Collazos was well-connected in Arlington.
“If we needed the name of someone to help with anything having to do with the house, he knew someone,” the poster said. “He made us all feel like we were his friends. We miss him terribly. He made such a positive impact on everyone he met.”
Another commenter recalled that when Collazos developed lymphoma, neighbors inscribed their well-wishes and prayers on a canvas, which “was carried and placed in front of his home.”
Some residents said the post office may not live up to Collazos’ legacy. The building has been plagued by undelivered and missing mail and packages, as well as some reported instances of stolen mail.
“I would hate to see a taint on his memory for ignored and continued issues at this particular [post office],” said a Yorktown poster.
But Cantwell said if the renaming goes through, there will be a big spotlight on the post office.
“Only good things happen when you have a big spotlight on something like this,” he said.
Collazos also delivered mail in the 22205 zip code, but that post office is already named for Preston King, a WWII fallen soldier, Cantwell said.
Renaming the N. George Mason Drive post office will require federal legislation.
“The renaming of federal buildings is a function of Congress, so the next step here would be legislation offered in Congress,” said Fritschner.
(Updated at 12:30 p.m. on 10/30/20) A juvenile suspect is facing a number of potential charges after a reported hit-and-run crash on Columbia Pike overnight.
The crash happened just before 12:30 a.m. Thursday, at the intersection of the Pike and S. George Mason Drive.
“Upon arrival, it was determined that after the suspect vehicle struck the victim’s vehicle, approximately 5-6 juveniles exited the vehicle and fled on foot,” Arlington County police said today in a crime report. “Arriving officers located the subjects in the area and identified the driver of the vehicle at the time of the crash.”
“The two occupants of the victim vehicle sustained minor injuries,” the crime report continues. “During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the suspect vehicle had previously been stolen from Fairfax County earlier in the evening.”
ACPD says the suspect was also “found to be in possession of a controlled substance” and is now facing petitions for Hit and Run, Possession of a Stolen Vehicle with Intent to Procure or Pass Title.
Separately, on Wednesday evening, S. Carlin Springs Road was blocked near Campbell Elementary School due to an incident involving Virginia State Police. Witnesses report seeing police with guns drawn.
The Arlington County Police Department said officers assisted state police with a suspect search, but referred additional questions to VSP. On Friday, state police provided additional information about the incident — which turns out to be the conclusion of a vehicle pursuit that started on I-395 — to ARLnow:
At 4:57 p.m. on Oct. 28, 2020, a Virginia State Police trooper observed a 2007 Honda Civic traveling on I-395 abruptly slow to 35 mph (55 mph posted speed limit). The trooper pulled in behind to see if the vehicle was experiencing a problem or the driver needed assistance. The vehicle took the Shirlington Exit and kept going well under the speed. The trooper also observed that the temporary license plate tag was unsecured and initiated a traffic stop. The vehicle pulled off the right shoulder on North Quaker Street. But, as the trooper walked up to the vehicle to talk to the driver, the Honda pulled away at a high rate of speed and a pursuit was initiated. The Honda finally stopped in the 600 block of Carlin Springs Road and one of the passengers fled the vehicle on foot.
The driver, Prince Jakim I. Maldonado, 21, of Woodbridge, Va., was taken into custody without incident at the scene. The passenger, Joshean D. Stokes, 20, of Dumfries, Va., was taken into custody without incident at the scene. Both Maldonado and Stokes were charged for felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, felony possession of Schedule I/II controlled substance with intent to distribute, and possession of a firearm while in possession of a Schedule I/II controlled substance, along with several misdemeanor charges. Maldonado was also wanted out on outstanding warrants in Prince William County. Both were transported to Arlington County Jail.
During the course of the short pursuit, the trooper witnessed objects being thrown from the window of the Honda. The trooper returned to that location and recovered a handgun and ammunition.
The search continues to locate the second passenger who fled on foot and left his wallet and ID behind in the vehicle.
A U.S. Postal Inspector was seen inspecting the drop-off mailboxes outside of the N. George Mason Drive Post Office Tuesday, as resident complaints about missing and stolen mail continue.
The mailboxes were reportedly taped off after the inspector’s visit Tuesday morning, which was witnessed by an ARLnow editor. A sign said the mailboxes were “out of order.”
A Nextdoor post about it quickly garnered numerous replies.
“Too many problems with mail being stolen!” said one reply. “This has been going on for years, and I’m glad they’ve finally closed the boxes.”
“NEVER use the George Mason Post Office,” said another. “They’ve been riddled with problems for a long time.”
“As others have said, there has been mail theft there (particularly with the drop box) for nearly a year,” said yet another. “I am happy they finally closed off the box because I still see reports here about mail theft 9 months after our outgoing mail was stolen.”
Other complaints about the post office in the thread — and in dozens of replies to a similar Nextdoor post from July — include missing and undelivered mail.
ARLnow is aware of at least three reports of mail stolen from the boxes outside the post office at 2200 N. George Mason Drive, which serves the 22207 zip code, over the past year or so.
In one case, a tipster said he or she had a thief attempt to cash or deposit more than $35,000 in checks from a business account, though the fraud was caught by the bank before losses were incurred. The incident happened after business mail was dropped off at one of the mailboxes outside.
On Nextdoor, another resident said a thief “took $5,000 out of my IRA account” by altering a $100 check written to a charity, which was deposited “in one of the two drive-by mailboxes outside the post office on George Mason Drive.”
Yet another Nextdoor poster said he also had a check “diverted from this post office… that someone forged and attempted to cash.”
Other residents complained about a lack of information about what’s going on, despite numerous complaints filed with the U.S. Postal Service and Arlington County.
“As far as I know, there has been no communication to the public, which I personally find ethically negligent,” said one resident.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service did not respond to an inquiry from ARLnow in January. Contacted again this week for more information, a spokesman would only confirm that ARLnow’s photo depicted a postal inspection officer at work.
“I can confirm the individual in the photograph is a US Postal Inspector, working hard to ensure the safety of the US Mail,” Michael Martel, Public Information Officer for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, wrote. “Postal Inspectors have access to USPS infrastructure for a variety of reasons including preventative security measures and during the course of an investigation.”
“If anyone suspects their mail has been stolen, or see suspicious activity near a Post Office or blue collection box, they can report it to Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455,” Martel added.
A flyer with mail security tips, provided by Martel, advises postal customers to “use the letter slots inside your Post Office for your mail, or hand it to a letter carrier,” and to “pick up your mail promptly after delivery… don’t leave it in your mailbox overnight.”
Residents on Nextdoor said even employees of the post office appeared to be in the dark this week.
“When I went in to ask what’s going on, my favorite clerk… was very frustrated and said they were not getting answers themselves,” said one resident.
“Something’s rotten in Denmark at the George Mason Post Office,” said another.
Bold posters inscribed with “Black Lives Matter” prompted a raucous symphony of honks from passing traffic at a busy Arlington intersection.
The conductor directing the clamor at Wilson Blvd and George Mason Drive on a weekday evening last week was Bob Edgar, who is no stranger to advocacy.
Edgar and his son Leteane Monatsi, along with a handful of supporters, have been drawing attention for weeks — in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd — by waving flags and signs saying “Black Lives Matter,” “HONK” and “Together We Rise.” In light of the death of civil rights leader and Georgia Congressman John Lewis, the pair also added a sign saying, “Honor John Lewis.”
The father and son duo, both in motorized wheelchairs, are committed to spreading their message and have protested at the intersection since the death of Floyd on May 25 and plan to keep coming out to the intersection for many months to come. They’ve been at it despite sweltering temperatures and the ongoing pandemic.
“We thought the best way to express our feelings was by coming to this street corner,” said Edgar. “Our whole intent in doing this is really to keep the issue of Black Lives Matter in front of people in this area.”
When the pair initially started coming out to the street corner during the evening rush hour, Edgar said they had “no idea how people would respond.” However, the most common reaction to their demonstration was to honk in support. From there, the pair added a bold “HONK” sign to encourage the response.
“We call this the Million Honk March,” said Edgar.
He said on an average day they will hear hundreds or even thousands of horn honks, ranging from a single honk to “going berserk.”
Edgar and Monatsi have gained some recognition since they began appearing at the intersection. As they go to and from their house, people will stop them on the street, eager to talk about issues, according to Edgar.
“It’s rewarding because we’re doing something that we think is a modest contribution,” said Edgar.
Edgar, a retired Howard University professor, has taken part in many movements over the years. He got his start protesting the Vietnam War, and then began working on South African issues and anti-apartheid demonstrations.
Edgar wants people who drive by to think about what their “Black Lives Matter” banner signifies at this moment in history, and what the country has gone through to get to this point in time.
“It’s not only about Black lives mattering now, but it’s about the history of our country,” said Edgar. “We’re addressing historical legacies as well as the present.”
Photo by Madeline Taylor